= ., —
IHE CIVIC SURVEY
PROFESSOR PP GEDDES
OUTLOOK TOWER, UNIVERSITY HALL, EDINBURGH1,
AND LABORATORY OF CIVICS, CROSBY HALL, CHELSJEA
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY \F. C. MEARS (ARCHITECT)
EDINBURGH AND CHELSEA
IA TRANSACTIONS OF THE TOWN PLANNING CONFERENCE
™« . FOR THE
911 ^CIVICS DEPARTMENT
. 1 K TOWER, EDINBURGH, AND CROSBY HALL, CHELSEA
(i) THE CIVIC SURVEY OF EDINBURGH.
By Prof. P. GEDDES, Outlook Tower, University Hall, Edinburgh,
and Laboratory of Civics, Crosby Hall, Chelsea. With Illustra-
tions by F. C. MEARS, Architect, Edinburgh and Chelsea.
THE survey of Edinburgh and its region is the fundamental purpose
and significance of the Outlook Tower, from the collections and work
of which the exhibit at the Royal Academy has been selected. I may
best describe the Tower as a Civic Observatory ; and despite any ap-
pearance to the contrary, as primarily concerned with that survey and
interpretation of the conditions of the city of the present, of which the
Rt. Hon. Charles Booth's classic and initiative map and volumes
upon the " Life and Labour of London " are the great example, and
Councillor Marr's Survey of Manchester, Miss Walker's of Dundee,
or Mr. Rowntree's study of York, later instances. But we seek
to go further than these writers have done, and to connect our
studies of contemporary conditions with their origins — local, regional,
and general. This inquiry we find requires, first, a survey of our
geographical environment in its fullest and deepest aspects ; secondly,
a survey also of the history of the city and region, and of Scotland in
particular ; with general history so far as bearing on this, and
necessarily, therefore, from the earliest beginnings of civilisation.
Above all, we are thus learning to view history not as mere
archaeology, not as mere annals, but as the study of social filiation.
That is, the determination of the present by the past ; and the tracing
of this process in the phases of transformation, progressive or
degenerative, which our city has exhibited throughout its various
periods — Ancient, Mediaeval, Renaissance, and Industrial- — with each
of these in its earlier and its later developments. We seek thus to
interpret our observations of the present, and even at times to discern
something of the opening future ; for that also is already incipient,
as next season's buds are already here.
Now I am well aware that such a detailed and comprehensive
survey of a city is necessarily difficult and laborious, though not
insuperably so; and I am, therefore, not surprised that there are
still students and fellow-workers in the town-planning movement
who hesitate to undertake or even encourage such surveys, lest the
good and urgent work on which we are here and now so conspicuously
engaging should be unduly delayed, if not misled into learned irrele-
vancies. Let us, however, for the moment, waive this controversy ;
since your presence grants me that you have some little leisure to look
over these outlines from our survey in this Exhibition with an unpre-
judiced mind, as being, at any rate, of intelligent interest, even if you
538 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910.
are not yet convinced of its obvious and immediate use. With this
moderate claim granted, let us now run over some of the main
phases of the development of Edinburgh.
[The Catalogue of this Edinburgh Survey may here with advantage, be condensed,
as a glance over its contents will enable the reader to follow this outline without
more of its illustrations than are herewith reproduced.
OUTLINE OF A SURVEY OF EDINBURGH.
By Prof. P. GEDDES and F. C. MEARS, Outlook Tower, Edinburgh.
PRELIMINARY NOTE. — This Exhibit is a developed example of the methods of
Survey of Cities (Scottish, English, and other) in progress in the Outlook Tower, as
applied (a) to the teaching of Civics, (&) to Collegiate developments and City improve-
ments. Its significance in the present Exhibition is as affording evidence of the
necessity, practicability, and fruitfulness of a clear understanding for each town and
city (a) of its geographical situation, (&) of its development (and corresponding decline)
at each important phase of its history from earliest to most recent times. Natural
environment is thus never to be neglected without long-enduring penalties. Neither
can historic phases be considered as past and done with ; their heritage of good, their
burden of evil, are each traceable in our complex present City : and each as a
momentum, towards betterment, or towards deterioration respectively. As these lines
of development and deterioration become disclosed by our survey, the task of practical
civics grows correspondingly clear, both for municipal statesmanship and for indi-
vidual and associated effort. It thus becomes evident that the survey should be
adequately thorough, both as regards the needs of City Improvement and the pos-
sibilities of City Development. The suburban extensions and the industrial develop-
ments so fully illustrated in the Town Planning schemes around us, may thus be aided
in many ways, and guarded against many risks of omission or error.
Edinburgh Survey Exhibit : General Map ; also Photographic Panorama, and
large Frieze, in oil, by Eric Robertson, of " Old Edinburgh from Outlook Tower,"
showing corrplex modern development to be surveyed, i.e., analysed and interpreted
geographically, historically, socially, etc.
Site of Edinburgh. — Model, by Paul Reclus, in true relief — horizontal and vertical
scales the same — showing (i) glaciated surface, (2) ancient tracks avoiding bad
ground, (3) extent of walled city, (4) position of New Town.
Relief Model of Edinburgh City, in relation to its site, before advent of railways.
Maps of Edinburgh Region — ordnance, orographical, geological, and botanical.
Corresponding Relief Model and Botanical Survey of Scotland : with reference
maps (also in relief) of larger environment of England and Europe.
Origins of Edinburgh. — Books of photographs and postcards showing primitive
cultivation-terraces : also (disappearing or contemporary) shepherd, peasant and
fisher-life and conditions.
Perspective of Earliest Edinburgh as Hill-Fort associated with Sea-Port (Leith),
and with agricultural plain of Lothian.
Comparison with Athens : Piraeus-Acropolis (port-fort) type not infrequent in
Bird's-eye View of Forth Estuary, showing early advantages and disadvantages
of situation of Edinburgh.
Section across head of Old Town, showing necessary sites of walls ; thus early
origins of congestion of recent (and present) times. Note also deficient water-supply,
Plan of Early Mediaeval City : with Plan of Elgin, closely analogous.
Remains of Terraces, their retaining walls adapted to mediaeval defence, now
being gardened again.
Style of mediaeval housing, arcaded and galleried with illustrative photographs, etc.
(" Open-Air Treatment ").
Procession of the History of Scotland, by W. G. Burn Murdoch.
Bird's-eye View about 1450, showing mediaeval development of Castle and Royal
burgh, with Holyrood Abbey and beginnings of aristocratic burgh of Canon-gait.
Corresponding Plan showing City walls and their extension, development of " Nor
Loch " as partial moat, also growth of ecclesiastical foundations outside walls. Note
also extension of " Flodden Wall " after 1513. To this is directly traceable the long
overcrowding and underhousing of Edinburgh, with high rents and land values : a
marked influence also in Scotland, and on industrial age therefrom. [Note analogous
evil influence now radiating through U.S.A., &c., from narrow site of New York
The Civic Survey of Edinburgh. 539
Castle before siege of 1573, by Bruce J. Home.
Siege of 1573 (old print). Decisive in Annals of Edinburgh (and of Reformation)
as main defeat of Party of Queen Mary (Catholic and of French Alliance) : victory
of Calvinism, with tendencies towards England.
View of Edinburgh, 1647. [Note Gardens of late Renaissance fashion.]
i. Plan of Edinburgh — i7th century — after Reformation and the Union of Crowns.
[Note crowded insanitary town of high-built stone houses still sheltering behind
" Flodden Wall " of 1513. Ecclesiastical properties devoted to secular uses — largely
educational. Departure of courtiers and stagnation of trade.]
ii. The West Bow : ancient principal approach to the town from the South and
West, destroyed 1820-30. Its peculiar form was probably conditioned by cultivation
terraces utilised for strategic use.
Bird's-eye View from Slezer's Theatrum Scotice, 1690. [Note town still confined
to its ridge. Gardens now in Dutch fashion.]
Plans showing developments, 1688-1765. With revival of agriculture and weaving,
along with increasing oversea trade, following the Union of Parliaments, there come
the first small attempts at formal planning. Small courts are opened up and squares
and streets laid out ; but mainly within the traditional fortified area.
Decay of Old Edinburgh following the building of suburbs to North and South.
This decay began with the removal of the Court to London, and, a century later, of
Moray House ; as best surviving example of mansions of nobles of Renaissance ;
now a Training College.
Greyfriars' Churchyard ; (becomes Campo Santo of Presbyterianism) Note
Martyrs' .Monument, etc.
The Crown of St. Giles.
The New Town and the Railway Age. — Craig's Plan for New Town, 1765.
Map of Edinburgh (1778) showing New Town in course of building.
North Bridge and Earthen Mound as exists from Old Town to New.
Stages of development of Formal Town, 1767-1900.
City Plan (1829) showing formal developments as planned ; not all executed, owing
to breakdown of system, e.g. : —
i, ii, iii, iv, v. Five competitive Plans (1817) for area of Calton Hill and north-
wards to Leith.
Photo of this area, showing park frontage as designed, with breakdown behind.
National Monument, etc., on Calton (unfinished), showing classical taste of
period. Note also —
"Battle of the Styles." Calton Monuments arranged as (earlier) Classic and (later)
Illustrations of Period of Improvement of Communications : age of Civil En-
Types of Improvement before Railway Period — bridges, viaducts, embankments.
Photos of these, culminating in Forth Bridge : this is a natural, i.e. logical as well
as regional, development.
Plan for New Communications (1855) : a typical example of profuse utilitarian
extravagance with corresponding a3sthetics (e.g. note chimney disguised as pagoda).
Modern (late Victorian) Edinburgh, showing panoramic contrast of Old and New
Towns and their respective utilisation of sites. Note combination yet contrast of
historic and artistic sentiment with modern and utilitarian practicality. (This
apparent paradox of Scottish character is thus but a typical example of the interaction
of individual life with history, of citizen and city everywhere.)
Advent of Railway Age. — Map showing present extent of railways, stations,
sidings, etc., also tramways
Photos showing modest beginnings, 1837-43, an<^ onwards to present vast develop-
Panorama of station roof (" smoke-hall," " halle a fume*e " of M. Rey) : cul-
minating example of " utilitarian " extravagance and unwholesomeness.
The Valley as it might have been. (By Bruce J. Home.)
Map of Industrial Areas. These now surround the formally planned area, having
grown up haphazard (yet in vicious circle) with the development of railways. Observe
the necessary effect of the prevailing winds. Note also large areas tinted blue —
devoted to treatment of disease, poverty, etc. : these in large proportion due to
defective (unplanned) environment.
Municipal Report: " Edinburgh as a Site for Factories and Industrial Works
Here return to Railway Map. Note " Innocent Railway," S.W. of Arthur's Seal.
This is the oldest line entering Edinburgh direct from the Midlothian Coalfield ; and
it might well have been developed rather than existing lines had town planning not
540 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910.
been lost sight of. It is upon this coalfield, and therefore to east and not west of the
present Edinburgh, that the industrial garden villages and towns of the future must
arise, and this for every reason of economy, health, and amenity, etc. An indication
of this (though unfortunately as yet unplanned) is afforded by the growing brewery
village of New Duddingston.
The two ways of looking at old Edinburgh :
Squalor and Romance.
Photographs recording the appalling (still tolerated) squalor of the Old Town
buildings, and correspondingly of its slum life This mainly accepted as a permanent
supply of material for charity, medicine, anatomy, and religious endeavour.
" Old Edinburgh Street " of International Exhibition of 1886.
Revivals in Religious Architecture.
Restoration of Castle.
Classical Revival revived : e.g. Proposed completion of National Monument.
Strata of Edinburgh, New and Old. — Uppermost row : Superficial, or Tourist
Best of New Town ; status and culture, wealth and appearances.
Breakdown of Formal Plan. Unfinished ends ; workshops — the latter not pro-
Workshops behind present-day tenements.
Old cottages neglected, falling into ruin.
Squalid life of back streets overcrowded and unclean.
Photos of villas of various dates, 1800-1900 : corresponding survival or admixture
of classical and romantic traditions, all lapsing alike.
" The long unlovely street " — Photos recording miles of tenement rows with
further decadence of rival styles. This essential continuance of the historic over-
crowding of Edinburgh has been and still is encouraged and maintained by its
educational trusts acting as ground landlords, in the supposed interest of the develop-
ment of the child life of Edinburgh !
Higher Education Developments. — University Buildings, Extra-Mural Schools,
University Union, proposed Halls of " Academic Nations " — Indian, Africander,
Australasian, Canadian, and West Indian, etc. Each as a needed centre of legitimate
individuality and of national dignity, within solidarity of Empire and of Education.
College of Art. Virtually a new Faculty of the University, and this of the highest
civic potentiality, as the present Town Planning Exhibition shows.
Edinburgh as a Collegiate City. — While the three other Universities of Scotland
are mediaeval foundations, Edinburgh University dates from 1582 — nearly a generation
after the Reformation. Hence no collegiate residences were established, and pious
founders — Heriot and others, to Fettes — preferred to erect schools, often palatial.
For these reasons the first hostel or Hall of Residence in Edinburgh dates only from
1887, and arose in due continuation of the tradition of student independence and
responsibility, as self-governing groups without a Warden.
Outlook Tower, acquired in 1892 as centre of post-graduate studies, experimental
education, civic improvement, etc.
This scheme is not one of collegiate development 'independently of the existing
city and by replacement of its buildings, as in older collegiate systems. On the con-
trary, it seeks (on grounds alike economic and historic) to conserve and incorporate
existing buildings, and is at once conservative as regards Town and constructive as
regards Gown. It carries on the preservation and repair of ancient buildings (see
Riddle's Court, etc.), and the incorporation and adaptation of historic houses (Allan
Ramsay's Lodge, Ramsay Garden, etc.).
Watercolour Perspectives show extension of scheme from Esplanade to Bank of
Scotland and thence eastwards as circumstances permit to Holyrood and Cnoft-an-
Righ. The full scheme of " Town and Gown " may now be understood : in quality
and in quantity, from the Map of Historic Buildings of Old Edinburgh, and the
corresponding perspectives ranging from Castle to Holyrood.
Growth of Edinburgh. Nowhere more need of garden villages, yet practical
reluctance to abandon crowded tenement habit.
Small Garden Village, erected 1895.
Garden Village near Murray-field (1900).
Open Spaces as Gardens and Playgrounds. — Survey of Open Spaces in Old Town
(75 pieces, 10 acres), now being reclaimed into gardens as circumstances allow.
Vacant Lands Survey of Environs : about 450 unused acres.
Holyrood and its Environment. Actual and Possible.
The realisation of this scheme is thus well advanced ; and in view of the possible
renewal of Holyrood as a royal residence, it gains in urgency, especially when com-
pared with schemes less conservative of its historic setting.
The Civic Survey of Edinburgh. 541
Map of City, with emphasis on Natural Site as at starting point ; insistence on
its geographic features.
Experimental Sketches towards completion of Survey by corresponding " Report
on City Development." This to be in utmost practicable accordance with natural
environment as with historic heritage, with economic prosperity, and with social and
cultural evolution, at once individual and civic.
Example from Report of suggested Symbol of returning unity and activity, at a
main point of 'Old Edinburgh, midway between churches of all denominations —
Statue of St. Columba.
Model of City Cross. Demolished 1756, partially re-erected by the good offices
of Sir Walter Scott, finally re-erected by W. E. Gladstone and again restored to public
uses. Hence this Cross is peculiarly fitting as a symbol not only of Citizenship, but
of Civic Revivance ; and as complementing the Relief Models of Edinburgh, with their
expression of the material origins of the Town, by a corresponding expression of the
deeper and inner evolution of the City. The many-sided activities of a great city,
spiritual and social, educational and hygienic, architectural and industrial — or most
simply ideal and material — all these may be fitly symbolised upon the many sides of
this characteristic building as aspects of a real unity, and this again, by the shaft of
the Cross, as an ascent of life towards expression — civic and national.
Yet as each phase of development of our Survey has come and gone, so in turn
may this presentment of it. All surveys need perpetual renewal ; and our final exhibit
is thus : —
The Outlook Tower — here reduced to its simplest expression : that in which it
may be adapted by anyone to the problems and the tasks presented by his own environ-
ment, his own region and City.]
Let me recall in outline the general topography of old Edin-
burgh— a great volcanic rock — the surviving lava-plug of a crater
worn away by the Ice Age, and with a long ridge or " tail " running
downhill eastwards from the " crag " to low ground at the foot of
Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat. Thus, from our fairly lofty
Outlook Tower, almost at the apex of the ridge, we command a view
at once of the rock and its huge castle to the westward, and of the
old city running down the ridge to the east. The seaport of Leith
is on the coast to northward, and the New Town lies between ; while
nearer still, betwixt us and the varied facades of Princes Street, lies
the valley of the old "Nor' Loch." This valley is now a public
garden, intersected longitudinally by a railway, and transversely by
the earthen Mound with its Art Galleries, and further east by the
North Bridge, under which lies the vast station into which the
railway line expands. Southward the city also extends for a couple
of miles along each of the main roads to the south and south-west ;
so that the historic Castle and Old Town remain as a central head
and backbone of the irregularly spread modern growth. Thus, while
people still think and speak of Edinburgh mainly in terms of its
mediaeval and renaissance " Old Town," and its eighteenth-century
" New Town," the modern Edinburgh and Leith extend far around
these in all directions, and include a population which is now nearly
approaching half a million, which seems destined to considerable
further expansion, and which is thus in need of fuller consideration,
economic, hygienic, and civic, than it has yet received. In short,
Edinburgh plainly exhibits both the great problems — of central and
of suburban developments — which are before the present Conference ;
we shall see that these require at once forethought as regards their
future, and retrospect for their origins ; and how each is helped by
From the very outset of our survey of a city, we must observe and
understand it in its region. Our Tower overlooks the city both
542 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910.
within its immediate and its greater landscape. The first of these
ranges from the Pentland Hills to the Firth of Forth, and shows the
city fringed at each level with the appropriate rustic life, from the
sportsman's solitudes and pastoral hamlets of the Pentland slopes, as
notably R. L. Stevenson's Swanston, through the agricultural and
the mining villages of the Lothian plain to the characteristic fishing
ones along the coast. Thus the real country is accessible on every
hand, and its villages are not yet the mere suburban dormitories into
which those around London and other great cities have so largely
become transformed. Yet this landscape is but a fraction of the larger
visible whole. To north and east we have the widening estuary of
the Firth of Forth, with Fife and its towns upon the opposite shore.
Westward, the Forth Bridge is seen overleaping the mile of the old
Queen's Ferry ; beyond this lies the old yet renewing city of Dun-
fermline, just now adding to itself what we trust may soon be the
paragon of town planning, the great Naval Base of Rosyth. The
spacious anchorage of the Upper Forth has also its mercantile ports.
Finally, far beyond Stirling, the great Highland Hills rise against
the sunset. Thus one readily realises the situation of Edinburgh as
making it a convenient metropolis of its region; and were this
primarily a company of geographers, of historians, or politicians, I
might show the bearing upon the past life and present influence of
our city of every detail I have mentioned, and of far more.
For town planning we naturally wish to concentrate upon our
essential and central outlook of the city itself. Yet we cannot trace
our city from its early beginnings upon the castle rock without under-
standing it as a hill-fort associated with a sea-port, as well as with
the agricultural plain of Lothian ; and as arising after the departure
of the Romans, as a defence against the incursions of the Northmen.
Indeed, to understand a city of this type we must go further afield
than ever. Hence the comparison, side by side, of Edinburgh and
Athens — each plainly a hill-fort associated at once with a sea-port,
and with an agricultural plain. This combination of an Acropolis
with its Piraeus and its Attica, is common throughout Mediterranean
Europe, though less frequent in the north ; and such a threefold co-
operation is conducive alike to agricultural efficiency, to maritime
enterprise and commerce, and to regional as well as civic culture.
Thus we see the traditional comparison of Edinburgh with Athens
has really little to do with our eighteenth and nineteenth-century
imitations of Greek temples or Greek sophistries, but lies far deeper,
in geographical and historical origins. [See figs, i, 2, 3, 4, 5.]
The Roman occupation had no use for Edinburgh, though its
defences and monuments are not far to seek around. Yet at
least one far older, indeed pre-historic, survival remains significant
through the ages, and is even beginning to renew its old-world life in
these present years. Every rambler round Arthur's Seat must notice
the long range and succession of pre-historic cultivation terraces which
rise like a gigantic stairway upon its gentle and sheltered eastward
slope — terraces unmistakably of the same essential build as those which
line the Mediterranean coasts from Spain and Portugal to Palestine,
and thence run eastward through Persia to Korea. Traces of what
are plainly kindred terraces, and better situated ones, are still
The Civic Survey of Edinburgh
5. $ i £
& £ f
fc.! , 5 «
. t -
c* ** *
ft ' V '***
548 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct.
discernible upon the southward slope of old Edinburgh ; and the
architect of historic interests need hardly be reminded how, as our
survey illustrates, these old terraces have constantly furnished the
base-line for fortress walls in the middle age ; yet how they also
developed into the stately Renaissance terrace-gardens of the succeed-
ing and more pleasure-loving time. Our survey shows these terraces
taken from their immemorial peaceful use to afford the lines and bases
for successive city walls [fig. 6], with at least one great defensive
bastion — that of the West Bow. We find them next becoming built
over, or, where surviving at all, largely deteriorating into slum areas,
sometimes even derelict, their very ownership forgotten ; yet at length,
as we shall see on one of the later sheets of this survey, becoming once
more renewed as gardens for the people [fig. 17]. Thus, after long
ages of warlike history, our women and children are returning to their
gentle tasks of old, their setting of herb and tending of flower. This is
but a small example, yet, I venture to say, a vital one, of the renewing
modern life and use of even what may have been a forgotten
past : in this case, the very longest forgotten. We shall see, as we
proceed, that one survival after another becomes in its turn similarly
significant, and thus learn how the soil of the past teems with
its dormant seeds, each ready to leap into life anew, be this as weed
My able colleague, Mr. F. C. Mears, has here reconstructed, by
help of surviving fragments as well as of tradition, the type of dwelling
of Edinburgh in the Middle Ages — long before the days of its high-
piled tenements — as a dwelling with arcaded ground-level and galleried
first floor. Such a house plainly exceeds, in its facilities for outdoor
work and open-air treatment, the cottages of any garden suburb
to-day, and will encourage those who, in these days of camping out,
are beginning to do the like at home. Of late years the eminent
medical history of Edinburgh has been renewing itself as regards con-
sumption. Long an extreme centre of this disease, it has become a
correspondingly eminent centre for its treatment ; and my architect-
collaborator, an expert in open-air schools, is thus deriving fresh
inspiration from the long libelled Middle Ages. [See fig. 7, A.B.]
Next, our section across the head of the old town [fig. 6] shows the
terraces as the necessary sites of successive walls, and thus explains
the early origins of that congestion of recent and even present times,
which is still so serious a difficulty for Edinburgh. For though the
walls are forgotten, the resultant land-values remain not a little pro-
hibitive. It explains, again, that deficient water-supply which was
so long an efficient cause of the historic dirt of old Edinburgh ; while
this dirt and that overcrowding, with their accompanying intensity
and increasing variety of disease, have been prime factors in the
development of Edinburgh as once and again the metropolis of
medicine, just as the fire calls out the fireman's powers, the wreck the
sailor's. It is by no mere accident that Pasteur, and his foremost
disciple Lister, should have been aroused to their cleansing tasks in
the midst of cities so pre-eminent in their overcrowding, their dirt
and disease, as old Paris and old Edinburgh. Thus our city surveys
are continually bringing out the strange alternation and interaction
of good and evil, evil and good.
FlG. 7 A, B.
A, EARLY TYPE OF HOUSE IN EDINBURGH WITH ARCADED AND GALLERIED FRONT
(" OPEN-AIR TREATMENT ").
B, VIEW SHOWING A SURVIVING LATER EXAMPLE : WHITEHORSE CLOSE, CANONGATE.
550 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910.
Take, now, our later perspective [fig. 8] and views of Edinburgh at
the conclusion of the Middle Ages and the coming on of the Reforma-
tion. Just as the Reformation in England was a generation later than
in Germany, so in Scotland it was a generation later still ; and hence
an intensification of the wars between England and Scotland. Recall,
now, what to an Englishman seems a well-nigh forgotten incident,
the battle of Flodden in 1513, so disastrous to Edinburgh that tra-
ditionally only one survivor returned ; and then see, on the remains
of the Flodden Wall, thereafter hastily pushed out beyond the then
existing ones, the marks of hurried and unskilled building against
the threatened invasion by the victor. This invasion, however, did
not come off for another generation ; then note what follows in our
survey, with its reproduction of the drawing, presumably by the war
correspondent accompanying the Earl of Hertford's invasion of 1544,
and showing his advance to the taking and destruction of Edinburgh.
Now realise the immediate consequence of such repeated calamities
(and there were far more) — a community twice denuded of its active
FIG. 8. — VIEW SHOWING MEDLEVAL DEVELOPMENT OF CASTLE AND ROYAL BURGH, c. 1450, WITH
HOLYROOD ABBEY AND BEGINNINGS OF BURGH OF CANONGATE.
men — fathers and sons swept away in two successive generations,
with few save women, children, and old men left, and with un-
numbered fugitives from the devastated country crowding in, time
after time, to take shelter behind the walls. Here, then, are con-
ditions, among the most intense in history, for that evolution of over-
crowding and squalor, with their attendant and complicating evils,
which to this day are the reproach of old Edinburgh. I am only too
well aware that in peaceful England, with its mostly unwalled cities,
and above all here in London, which has known no such tragedies,
not even at the Conquest, her people are honestly incredulous that
such far-away incidents can continue to matter. Here let me appeal
to our foreign visitors. What Frenchman, what German here does
not know how terrific and enduring have been the effects of war?
Who does not know it as a commonplace of German history that the
prosperity and growth of cities in the past generation are often but
their first substantial recovery, since the widespread ruin and
calamities of the Thirty Years' War, of the Burning of the Palatinate,
of even older as well as newer tragedies.
The Civic Survey of Edinburgh. 551
The complex strife and civil wars of the Reformation are recalled
in other battle-pictures. Little more than a generation later we have
again a largely ruinous disaster to Edinburgh as the metropolis, in
the accession of King James VI. to the English crown. In less than
another generation and a half begin the new calamities of civil war,
of Cromwellian defeats and occupation; then, again, after the Restora-
tion, the ruthless persecution of the Covenanters, with practically
a renewing of the Civil Wars under Charles II. and James II. Next,
the difficulties of the Revolution of 1688; and yet again a ruin of
Edinburgh as the centre of Parliament (and its expenditures) by the
Union of the Parliaments in 1707, while following upon this came
successively the collapse of Scottish Imperialism in the Darien scheme,
and the Civil Wars of 1715 and 1745. Each of these events, at the
time tragic enough, is more or less recorded in the monuments and
buildings of our survey, or in the ruins and dilapidations of these ; and
the conception thus grows clearer of one of the most distressful of
old countries, in which each and all the evils destructive of historic
cities have raged by turns, if not together, and that repeatedly, seldom
sparing a generation from the thirteenth century to well on in the
eighteenth. The impassioned and adventurous Scot, colonising or
militant, political and ruling, and the canny Scot, cautious and reserved
to an extravagant degree, who by turns appear to the romantic or
the practical Englishman as the essential and predominant Scottish
type, have thus both been developed in such a troubled environment,
the one by facing it among his fellows, the other by shrinking into his
own small affairs ; and the strange yet constant alternations of our
Edinburgh architecture — here of picturesqueness, there of utilitarian
plainness — thus appear as the natural and necessary expressions in
architecture of these contrasted social types. Architecture and town
planning in such a city, we thus plainly see, are not the mere products
of the quiet drawing-office some here would have them ; they are the
expressions of the local history, the civic and national changes of
mood and contrasts of mind. Here, indeed, I submit is an answer
to those town planners who design a shell, and then pack their snail
of a would-be progressive city into it, not discerning that the only
real and well-fitting shell is that which the creature at its growing
periods throws out from its own life. This is no doctrine of laissez
faire ; it is simply the recognition that each generation, and in this,
each essential type and group of it, must express its own life, and
thus make its contribution to its city in its own characteristic way.
Returning to the elementary standpoint of town planning, the
growth of our medieval town may now be traced downwards, from
the Castle and its vacant space — the military zone of a bow-shot
distance — beyond which we descend by the steep Castle Wynd, now a
staircase, to the spacious old Grassmarket, from the earliest times the
agricultural import centre of the city until the removal of our cattle-
markets this very autumn [figs. 4, 5, 6, 8, 9]. At the same point
begins the narrow Castlehill, the earliest suburb, and evidently at the
outset a mean one. This soon widens, however, into the spacious
Lawnmarket and High Street, 100 feet broad, formerly arcaded on
either side — in its day, as the letters of French or Venetian Ambas-
sadors in Scotland show, the stateliest street in Europe [fig. 9] . To
552 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910.
meet the gate of this Old Edinburgh midway down the ridge, there
begins, uphill from Holyrood Abbey, the Canon-gait — from the first
a garden suburb, and after the plunder of the Reformation especially
largely made up of the mansions of the nobles, a few of which survive
to this day [figs. 8 and 9] .
FIG. 9. — BIRD'S EVE VIEW FROM ABOVE SALISBURY CRAIGS, SHOWING ESSENTIALS OF
Note, next, outside the wall zone to the south, the situations taken
up by the various orders of Friars. Then, as students of history, see
how their old preaching intensity renews in that of the Reformation
The Civic Survey of Edinburgh.
and the Covenant once and again in later times. For to this day the
" Old Greyfriars " Churchyard is the Campo Santo of Scotland ; and
this again has made Edinburgh the successor of Geneva as the central
and sacred city of the Calvinist world. And of more than Calvinism :
this very year even London has heard of the " World's Missionary
Congress," with its five thousand pilgrims in conclave from well-nigh
all lands and denominations.
Note, again, how it is in this very area we trace the beginnings
and still possess the development of the University, of hospitals, and
great schools [fig. n]. Compare this now with the plan of Oxford,
and see how colleges arose in the exactly corresponding sites vacated
by the Friars outside the walls. Thence go back to a plan of earlier
type still — that of Florence — and note its two great poles of tradition in
religion and culture, and thus in art and architecture, afforded by the
same Friars, grey and black, at Santa Maria and Santa Croce. As
before, in comparison with ancient Athens, so now with notable
FIG. 12. — PLAN SHOWING DEVELOPMENTS PREVIOUS TO NEW TOWN PLAN, 1688-1765.
(With revival of industry and trade following the Union of Parliaments came the first small attempts
at planning on " Classic " lines. Small courts were opened up and squares and streets laid out.
Still no serious attempt is made to extend beyond the traditional fortified area).
mediaeval cities, British and foreign, we see how our town studies
throw light upon their ancient plans. Their apparent medley is more
orderly than we knew ; their unique physiognomy but the individual
variant of some general type.
Enough, now, of Mediaeval and Renaissance Edinburgh. Let us
come to the Modern world, in the main, as we know it, Utilitarian
and Industrial ; this, as elsewhere in Great Britain, comes into power
with the Revolution of 1688. See how our photographs of old Edin-
burgh show the new type of modern utilitarian building at once arising
amid the mediaeval timber-work and the Renaissance stone mansions,
as the tall block proudly inscribed by its builder-architect, the seventh
King's master-mason of his family, as "Milne's Court, 1690."
With the revival of agriculture consequent upon peace, and the
increase of commerce helped by the rise of the new trading class upon
the ruins of the Cavaliers, the improvement of the old town begins
more rapidly a generation later, and by-and-by with small beginnings
Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910
of formal planning; for after the opening up of James Court (1726)
[fig. 12] we venture next to build a New John Street, off Canongate,
the small Brown Square, and at length lay out the spacious George
Square. The Jacobite wars of 1715 and 1745 are, after all, but minor
interruptions of this growing prosperity ; and half a generation later
the increasingly prosperous Edinburgh community, stirred, no doubt,
by the contemporary improvement of London, then beginning to lay
out its spacious and dignified squares, resolved, under the leadership
of a really great edile, Lord Provost Drummond, upon city develop-
ment and town planning- proper. Hence Craig's " Plan of the New-
Town " of 1765, which was realised in the generation ending with
1800 [figs. 13 and 14] . The original New Town had next its northern
extension by 1822, and thence to 1830. As examples of the high state
of town planning in 1817, let me cite the series of plans selected as
best from a competition held by the Corporation of Edinburgh in 1817,
FIG. 13. — VIEW OF PRINCES STREET (1816) AS ORIGINALLY BUILT ON MONOTONOUS LINES.
(The last surviving front of this type is now being altered.)
for the area northward of Calton Hill, and now lent the Exhibition by
their successors.* Here, then, we have a period of town planning
and of architectural execution surpassing even the lesson of London ;
yet breaking down, also, in its turn.
Our photographs and maps are arranged so as to show this pro-
gress of design and construction, yet also to bring out the reason of
their arrest and breakdown, with abandonment of their unused spaces
to the contemporary squalor or confusion. These town-planners,
with all their merits, made various grave mistakes. First, they
omitted adequate consideration of relief and contour, and thus their
office-made schemes broke down wherever the ground became
seriously irregular, so demanding unforeseen outlays for founda-
tions— here upon cliffs, or there on marshy hollows. They failed
* These are figured by Mr. Thomas Adams, of the L.G.B. Town Planning
Department, in the Architectural Review of October 1910.
The Civic Survey of Edinburgh. 557
then, very largely for want of a proper topographical survey and its
contour-models ; but also, and even more seriously, for want of any
adequate social survey. These competitive plans show plainly that
designers — clients and corporations alike — assumed a practically
indefinitely increasing population of the well-to-do — the lawyers,
country gentlemen^ merchants, and others for whom the new town
was designed, and forgot entirely, after the New Town Plan of 1765,
with its first instalment of three rich streets and two poor ones, to
provide for cheaper burgher dwellings, much less for workmen's
homes. Thirdly, they omitted from consideration any provision for
anything so vulgar as workshops, for any industry whatsoever ; and,
consequently, the formal beauty for which they had laboured was
soon broken in upon and at many places destroyed by the necessary
and inevitable filling up of any and every vacant space with any and
every sort of irregular and utilitarian factory and workshop, as our
photographs again plainly show, as, for instance, the dramatic con-
trast of stately residential order and planless squalor on opposite sides
of the same street, e.g. Fettes Row, of the same monument even —
witness St. Stephen's church.
Does not, then, our survey bring its gentle but decided criticism
to bear upon much of the town planning of our time, which, with
all its specialising upon communications here, or comfortable dwel-
lings there, there forgets the industrial development, and here the
popular well-being upon which every town essentially depends? I
venture deliberately to say that this Exhibition has too many plans
of this kind showing various lack of foresight, though happily not
all too late for correction.
Turn now to our aesthetic town planning. TKe builders of the
new town at first cared little for the romantic old one they had
deserted. Their ideas and tastes were classic, as were those of their
time throughout Europe ; and hence the classic High School, still one
of the best examples of its Neo-Grecian style. Hence, too, the
various classic monuments of the Calton Hill, culminating in the
too colossal and unfinished colonnade of the National Monument, and
more temperately continued in the Art Galleries of the Mound.
Yet the dramatic contrast of the picturesque castle and hill town
with the regular and utilitarian modern new town, which is to this
day the most striking of the many panoramic features of Edinburgh,
was a great factor in the Romantic Movement, of which Sir Walter
Scott made Edinburgh for a time the veritable capital. This new
idealisation of the mediaeval past, both in its temporal and its spiritual
manifestations, so natural to a generation rebounding against the
severe republicanism of the Revolution days and the formal
classicism of the Empire style which succeeded it, produced its
speedy effect in the next generation. Hence that efflorescence of
castellated gaols and " Scottish baronial " tenements or villas with
which the next generation followed the architectural well-nigh as
fully as the romantic inspiration of Abbotsford.
This Calton Hill, with its strange medley of monuments, is thus
a vast museum of the battle of the styles, and a permanent evidence
showing how the town planners of one generation cannot safely count
upon continuance of those of the next. This is not an argument
558 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910
against town planning ; but it brings out clearly the proposition that
we shall do best by supplying the needs and expressing the ideas of
our opening generation, without too great expectation of agreement
from the next one, much less attempt to dominate it.
New churches, too, arose for all denominations — bad, good, or
mostly at best indifferent — culminating in magnitude at least in
St. Mary's Cathedral by Sir Gilbert Scott, which was, till Truro
Cathedral surpassed it, the largest and most ambitious ecclesiastical
edifice since the Reformation.
The romantic planners are now left behind by their successors.
A period of new communications had been already opening, with
its new and wider roads, its embankments, bridges, and viaducts.
There is more civil engineering of this kind in Edinburgh than in any
other city I know of. Our series of photographs again bring out
notable consequences of this development, yet equally unforeseen. On
one side a disastrous increase in the social separation of classes, who
had been in old Edinburgh so peculiarly mingled, so that the upper
and middle classes have been wont to traverse Edinburgh by viaducts
high above the festering squalor below, and to live and die in practical
indifference to it, and thus maintain that practical indifference to de-
plorable conditions which strikes every Continental visitor, even every
American tourist, with an outspoken astonishment far from flattering
to Edinburgh, yet for the same reason with too little effect upon it.
Yet note also how this series of achievements of civil engineering
culminates, for the city itself, in the beautiful Dean Bridge, which is
one of Telford's masterpieces ; while a few miles further on we come
to the natural outlet and main highway of Edinburgh — that of the
Forth Bridge, which but replaces its old Queen's Ferry. This most
colossal of engineering achievements appears in its true light as a
regional and therefore normal and natural product, when we consider
the immediate civic environment of civil engineering achievements,
each a triumph in its day, in which its promoters and its first designers
grew up from boyhood. In an analogous connection the Forth and
Clyde Canal, once of small barges, then of incipient steamships, and
through the Railway Age in comparative insignificance, is now likely
to give place to a Forth and Clyde Canal upon the oceanic scale,
necessarily with unseen future transformations for Edinburgh.
Almost since its foundation, and for many years before' the present
public interest, the alternative routes for this canal have been on
exhibition in our Outlook Tower, with a suggestion of their future
Garden City, stretching from sea to sea.
From the great civil engineers of roads and bridges to the Railway
Age which followed them is, however, not so distinct a progress — in
fact much otherwise, as our map of the development of the railway
system of Edinburgh so tragically shows [fig. 15]. This development
of the old carrier system of Edinburgh by the " new firm of carriers,'*
as Lord Cockburn called it, naturally established its depots as near as
possible to the old places of departure for east and west (north, too,
and south respectively) ; and these have then grown by sheer force of
circumstances to their modern dimensions. Thus, too, their depots at
each side of the city naturally, almost inevitably, became linked up by
the railway through the gardens. Hence our exhibition of the railway
-^ ..%,-. .^ . ' ..*-
560 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910.
age appropriately begins with the statue of Lord Provost Adam Black,
uttering his dictum that " Providence had plainly designed the valley
of Princes Street Gardens for a railway." Hence, naturally, our
two contrasted plans — one of the valley as it is, its eastern half filled
with the most gigantic of stations, the other of " the valley as it
might have been " — the most magnificent of public gardens between
the sister cities, old and new. The practical question, of course, here
arises: "Where better could the railway have been arranged for?
Would you arrest all industry and progress, and dry up the very
sources of wealth from which gardens can be obtained? " No doubt
there have been such aesthetes ; but here we are planners. See there-
fore upon our plan the " Innocent Railway " — the oldest line entering
Edinburgh, and direct from the great Midlothian coalfield ; and we
venture to submit it is plain that it is this practically designed railway
line which should have been developed rather than the existing- mere
following1 up of the old horse-carrier roads and depots, had not this
latter railway planning been incompetent through lack of grasp and
foresight, and had not the town-planning interest and experience of
the previous generation been totally lost sight of by a generation
hastening to be rich and smitten with railway mania.
Observe in detail the weltering confusion of the railway lines of
competitive companies which have invaded and well-nigh destroyed
the regions between Edinburgh and Leith, which were being so care-
fully planned only one generation before !
Next consider the far simpler net of the railway system as it might
and should have been, and note in this the economy in space and in
time, with gain, not loss, of efficiency, time, and convenience, and with
saving of the city's beauty to boot. Of course this is but a sketch,
inviting criticism by the expert, with no doubt modifications in detail.
It is the general principle which is here boldly affirmed, that this
railway system has not been the utilitarian success it still pretends
itself, but has been, not merely half-ruinous to the beauty of Edin-
burgh, but is structurally bungled and economically wasteful to all
concerned — so much so, in fact, that I again venture to suggest
that it may not be a merely Utopian or academic question whether it
may not yet pay some day to transform the railway system more or
less as here suggested ! Be this as it may, I trust this illustration will
be sufficiently clear on general lines to warrant my pressing the town-
planner boldly to confront and scrutinise the railway system of his
own town and of every other town. Let him criticise this, not
on any grounds of antiquarian piety or wayward aestheticism
(as he will be of course misrepresented on all hands as doing),
but from his more extensive and more clear-headed grasp of
the topography and the economics of the town and region, which
the railway directors and their engineers have as yet so astonish-
ingly little time to inquire into. He will thus discover that
the " utilitarian " here, as so often elsewhere, has been the
futilitarian ; and that he too frequently to this day remains so. If
this be doubted, let us glance for a change at the map of North
London with its railway termini, and their mazes behind the scenes,
or at the Thames with its adjacent stations and railway bridges ; the
came through outer and suburban Paris, and so on, even to the
562 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910.
newest capitals, like Berlin and Chicago. All tnis will surely be
sufficient to warrant the present attack upon most railway planning,
whether in Edinburgh or beyond, as the most fortuitous bungle in the
long history of cities, and as far exceeding in its present disorder and'
waste of space, time, and energy (to say nothing of natural beauty
or human life), anything that has been or can be alleged against the
decay of the Mediaeval, the Renaissance or the eighteenth-century
cities and city plans, defective though we have seen each and all of
these to have been in its turn, and disastrous in its decay. I labour
this point, not as vituperation, but to bring out the essential origins
and tasks of our present town-planning movement ; it is the necessary-
rebound of a new generation against the ideas, and the lack of ideas,
of our elders of the railway and industrial age, and the practical
endeavour now to mitigate the material confusion and the social'
deterioration in which their lapse of well-nigh all sense of civic-
responsibility and well-being has plunged us.
Turning now from communications to population, our later maps-
of Edinburgh show it growing rapidly, after all much like other more
obviously industrial cities in this railway age. They show how readily
and completely, even in this city so peculiarly inspired by the tradition
of the three great preceding culture-periods, all alike for practical pur-
poses become lost so far as city development is concerned. For newer
districts this has arisen from the lower and more squalid types in the
main, largely that of the West Port quarter, which each succeeding
town plan unhappily neglected. Witness the wretchedly unplanned in-
dustrial suburb of Dairy, &c. , which chokes the western exit ; witness,
too, the confusion, stretching far and near, round Holyrood, or that
on the eastern and northerly quarters of Leith.
This zone of sordid industrial districts surrounding-^— say, indeed,
immersing — the old town and the planned new town alike, has thus
grown in a vicious circle with the misgrowth of the railway system,
and our plans show plainly how Edinburgh has become, as far as it
could, an ordinary manufacturing town — at many points now able to
match Dundee, Glasgow, or Lancashire towns in their characteristic
perspectives of squalor and dreariness of homes, of monotonous con-
fusion of mean streets.
Yet we must not merely blame the early railway age or its con-
tinuators ; nor do we forget the efforts of the prosperous community
meantime to the lay-out of villa quarters, of the poorer middle-class
towards more or less improved tenements. Nor can we simply follow
our present town-planners, central or suburban, to the laying out of
boulevards within or of dormitories without. For what is this indus-
trial confusion but the Nemesis of that forgetfulness of workshops
and workers' homes which we noted in eighteenth-century planning?
We are thus coming plainly abreast of the modern situation, and
this as we see it in less obviously historic cities than Edinburgh ; and
we are now ready to criticise, not merely the apathetic standpoint
of yesterday, but the well-intentioned efforts of to-day, with old com-
munities and municipalities beginning to look towards the problem
of redressing the disorder which has thus thoughtlessly grown up,
and even with new communities, like Letchworth or Rosyth, seeking
how, if possible, to avoid failure in their turn. Here, then, the views
The Civic Survey of Edinburgh. 563
of the Edinburgh Municipality, which has pioneered in town-planning
progress even oftener than our Survey has sufficed to show, are surely
worthy of careful consideration. Note, then, our exhibit of the
41 Preliminary Memorandum to the Town Council of Edinburgh on
the Further Development of Industries (1908)." In this document,
after a preamble duly appreciative of the historic interest and
picturesque beauty of Edinburgh, and of the economic value of its
consequent tourist attractiveness, after due recognition of its
educational, governmental, religious, and other importance as the
Scottish metropolis, there is no suggestion at all as to the develop-
ment of the existing industries of Edinburgh — much less of that
possible further association of these with the educational and other
advantages of the city. But these, it would be easy to prove to the
most sceptical critic, give it potential advantages similar to those
which it has partly utilised, as in the printing and paper-making
industries, those of pharmacy, brewing, &c. ; and all these in a degree
probably, on the whole, not inferior to any other cities, British or
foreign. There is merely a lengthy, and in itself, so far as it goes,
not unpersuasive, argument as to the suitability of Edinburgh, by
virtue of its low rates especially, for new industries of any kind ; but
notably those which are being, or may be, attracted to Great Britain
by Mr. Lloyd George's recent law on Patents. Moreover, this docu-
ment also proposes — and here is its main interest as a town-planning
suggestion — that these industries should be developed, as mainly at
present, to the south-west. But so long as the earth continues to
rotate that will be the direction of our prevailing wind. The new
town is already gravely depreciated by the smoke and smell of this
new quarter — even its central and most famous view is " So like
Pittsburg !" as the American tourist now frankly tells you; and to
extend all this is, surely, not likely to benefit or even maintain the
interests so politely recognised at the outset of the memorandum.
Are, then, industrial developments to be discouraged, and the
city to be left to its lawyers and parsons, its doctors and professors,
to its retired villas and its conspicuous slums? Not so. Our initial
Survey, with its general and geological maps, shows exactly where
the future industrial development of Edinburgh should be, and there-
fore will be, because it will pay to be — pay in energy and efficiency,
in health and beauty, and therefore in money also. It will be upon
that " Innocent Railway " [fig. 15] which we saw for urban reasons
should have been developed from the first, and now should be for
regional reasons also. And it will be upon and beside the Midlothian
coalfield, which, happily, lies east, not west of the city, and has its
smoke mainly blown out to sea. Smoke, of course, is mere waste,
soon to be suppressed by a more economic and more truly utilitarian
civilisation, while, with this, an adequate development of electrical
power, lighting and heating systems must naturally also arise, and
this not only for its own uses, but also improving existing Edinburgh
in ways for which a volume is required. Our survey, in fact, points
straight towards its sequel, in a Report with Plans of this possible
Newer Edinburgh — an industrial city and a garden city in one, and
this realisable within a reasonable period, which our friend Mr.
Ebenezer Howard may, I trust, live to see.
-,64 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910,
An indication of this growth, as already in instructive and un-
conscious progress — though for that reason unfortunately as yet
quite unplanned — is afforded by the growing brewery village of New
Duddingston. This exodus of the breweries from Central Edinburgh
next begins to raise the question of the reorganisation of the present
industrial confusion, and, with this, of the working-class quarters
within the old town — in short, we have to supplement our incipient
scheme of a newer Edinburgh by a better older Edinburgh also. We
are, in fact, entering upon a period like that of 1765, upon a new
spiral, of course ; let us hope a less defective one. Does not, then,
this Survey unmistakably bring out, not only the interest and the
possibility of our Survey of a City, but its direct practical use — the
way in which retrospect, rightly interpreted, not only illuminates the
present, but sweeps through this, and forward again into intelligent
foresight? With our greater populations and resources, our graver
problems, our more anxious responsibilities, we are compelled to still
greater magnitude of design than were our predecessors ; but surely
also to fuller reflection, to completer provision for all the many needs
of life. Of course it may fairly be contended by the municipal
authorities, whose " Preliminary Report " we have been so severely
criticising, that their proposed south-westward development is for
their own area, while ours are outside their present municipal
boundary. Yet the answer to this also is plain. Municipal
boundaries exist for the sake of cities, and not cities for municipal
boundaries ; and in Edinburgh, with what is believed to be propor-
tionately the largest legal and political population of any city in the
world, or in history, it should not be impossible to enlarge at once
its area and its powers to an extent worthy alike of the opening social
future, and of the continued place of Scotland as one of the Great
Powers — of Culture, if no longer of material forces and alliances : of
Edinburgh as one of the Great Cities — for in history those alone are
great whose spiritual forces and influences are most out of proportion
to their mere numbers.
The preceding criticism of the recent industrial order, or rather
lack of order, together with the complemental indication of a policy of
improvement within the city, and of expansion without, has brought
us more fully up to the contemporary interests of town planners than
our far-away manner of opening seemed to promise. Yet, instead
of now presenting plans of industrial and garden villages without, or
of new clearances or thoroughfares within, as the prevalent custom
is, let us simply return to our Survey, still far from ended — indeed,
really only beginning for truly modern purposes — with our disillusion-
ment with the " progress " of the industrial and railway age.
Let us resort rather to that form of mental relief common to all
save the poorest classes of our industrial world — that of taking the
tourist and holiday view of Edinburgh, from which indeed our city
largely derives its wealth, like Scotland generally.
This explains our exhibit of the two ways of looking at Old
Edinburgh — as a centre, indeed a very metropolis— of Squalor, yet
likewise of Romance. Our series of photographs, therefore, records
The Civic Survey of Edinburgh. 565
this appalling and still tolerated squalor of the old town in its build-
ings and courts, and correspondingly of its slum life. Throughout
the nineteenth century, as already indicated, this state of things has
been mainly accepted by the middle and governing classes as a
permanent supply of human material for its confused charities, for
its vast schools of medicine and anatomy, and for its manifold
religious endeavours. Yet, as the medical school has its long roll of
heroes, of whom Simpson and Lister are but the chief, so the philan-
thropists and divines have also largely justified themselves in types
like Dr. Guthrie, the organiser of ragged schools, and Dr. Chalmers,
the originator of the Elberfeld system, or Dr. Begg, a pioneer in
housing many years ago; while the too sweeping would-be sanitary
clearances, like those of Provost William Chambers and most of his
successors, are also seen to be not entirely inexcusable, despite their
inevitable resultants of transferred pressure in higher local rents and
general taxes, &c.
For Romance, on the other hand, we have a selection of Mr. Bruce
Home's admirable drawings [fig. 16], while our photographs culmi-
nate in those of the " Old Edinburgh Street " of the International
Exhibition of 1886, probably the most admirable reconstruction of an
ancient city yet effected, and a suggestion of what may yet be done in
some of our old quarters in permanent form. Beginnings of this
domestic revival have, in fact, since been made at Dean Village, in
High Street, &c., as notably in the buildings of University Hall.
The exact coincidence, both in time and space, of such work as
this of Messrs. Sydney Mitchell and Wilson, Capper, and other archi-
tects, towards this revival in domestic architecture, with the romantic
tales and admirable " Edinburgh " of Robert Louis Stevenson, is of
interest as once more showing how the mental attitude of a generation
and its expression in material and literary art are normally at one. In
this case all are plainly derived from Scott, and arise by the revival of
his spirit in presence of the broken survivals of his picturesque envi-
ronment before the inroad of the railway and full onset of the indus-
trial and financial age. The restoration of the interior of St. Giles and
that of Edinburgh Castle are similar and contemporary examples of
the work of the past generation at its best. This connection is still
more plain when we note that both these great works were carried out
at the initiative and expense of Robert Chambers and of William
Nelson respectively, two of our leading printers and publishers — a
group among whom there still reappear, perhaps more naturally than
in any other class, the combined virtues of scholar and of citizen.
Once more we return in fresh series of exhibits to that ever-recur-
ring deterioration of the work of each generation, which seems well-
nigh as sternly inevitable as the death and decay of its once living
bodies ; and this involves a corresponding rebuke of the vanity of the
town planners who so boldly provide for a morrow they naively
imagine " shall be as this day and much more abundant." We show,
then, the character of our " eligible villas," but these have already
been sufficiently criticised in Stevenson's " Edinburgh." We show,
too, the type of " long, unlovely street," unending miles of tenement
rows, upon which a past generation of builders, of speculators rather,
made their transient gains, each an enduring injury to its community,
566 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910.
once more — like the villas, the Calton monuments, the two towns, old
and new — in further decadence of rival styles, the classic and romantic,
in their latest variations of decay.
It is important to note how that essential continuance of the his-
toric overcrowding of Edinburgh by the habitual preference of even
moderately well-to-do and otherwise intelligent people for the tene-
ment, as distinguished from the cottage, has been and still is en-
couraged and maintained by the great Educational Trusts, which are
the largest ground landlords of Edinburgh, and which stoutly con-
tinue to press in and pile up a population far denser than that which
can be found upon the estates of any of the ordinary types of ground
landlords of whom English town-planners so often grievously com-
plain— and yet all this with the best intentions, in the supposed in-
terest of the up-bringing of the child-life of Edinburgh ! Thus the
question of ground landlords is not so merely political as people sup-
pose. Like every other abuse or evil around us, it needs a fuller
study than either politicians or reformers are yet accustomed to give
— for lack of city surveys !
Our survey made, shall we then turn to political agitation? Not
I, at least, for one. Our Civic Observatory of an Outlook Tower can
but leave its Surveys to leaven gradually as they may, the thought
of ground landlords, City Fathers, Parliamentary representatives,
and other personages too high for easy access, like our tenements
themselves. Our Survey turns next to what can be done here and
there meanwhile with moderate means and ordinary folk, with such
labour and time as they can spare. Hence our " Open Spaces Com-
mittee," with its survey of every open space amid the slums; and
these within the " Historic Mile," despite its overcrowding, amount
to no less than seventy-five pieces, measuring about ten acres in all.
This Survey again leads to " Report " — that is to plan, to action ; and
ten or a dozen of these have already been reclaimed within the past
two or three years into gardens, accessible to school and street
children and to women, to the people generally, whilst others are
in preparation as circumstances and scanty funds allow. Our photo-
graphs and water-colour perspectives here explain themselves — save
that in these I may bring out the principle and point of view of the
whole historic survey by once more calling attention to these as a
veritable renewal of the cultivation terraces of our initial and pre-
historic survey [fig. 17]. As a practical point it may be added that,
despite all that is too commonly said of rough population and the rest,
no mischief worth mentioning is ever done. Quite the contrary. The
gardens are thoroughly appreciated, and their educating, civilising
influence already plain, and spreading in ways too varied and complex
for consideration here.
Closely kindred to the work of this Open Spaces Committee is the
•corresponding larger survey lately suggested by Mr. Joseph Fels on
behalf of his well-known " Vacant Lands Cultivation scheme," now
flourishing in London as well as in Philadelphia. Our map shows that
about 450 unused acres on the outskirts of Edinburgh might be
utilised as in these so far more progressive cities. It should not
be necessary to argue for this method of relief, though as yet its
.adoption is hard to begin in so keenly' critical a community as ours :
568 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910
hence this little survey also awaits its natural application and
development, like other and larger ones.
From the standpoint of the historic survey, however, note how
this vacant land cultivation just outside the town limits throws light
upon the origin of the spacious gardens of the old-world friars upon
our mediaeval town-maps ; and these_, not only in Edinburgh, but
FIG. 17. — " KING'S WALL GARDEN," AN EXAMPLE OF THE RECLAMATION OF NEGLECTED AREAS
AND RENEWAL OF ANCIENT CULTIVATION TERRACES.
in Oxford, in Florence, and other old cities. Hence — the speculation
is at least harmless — might not this similarly useful and re-educa-
tional type of cultivation again lead us towards some other new and
unexpected development of town-growth, in its way also beautiful, as
did that of old? May it not have some latent part in that next
evolution of our city for the better, which is the happier side of that
The Civic Survey of Edinburgh. 569
judgment-day which our historic and sociological survey shows is
always going on? May it not even again be said by the Ideal of
Progress — " Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these, ye did it
unto Me? "
Leave now our small gardens in progress, and our waste lands
still unutilised. We leave undescribed also our little beginnings of
Garden Villages in Edinburgh, though the oldest in Scotland and
among the earliest in Britain. For a higher outlook and a larger
future, let us return to the ancient heart and focus of our city, the
ridge of Old Edinburgh. Once more we have to promote an exodus
like that to the New Town, yet in a different way — the relief of its
again largely over-crowded population, seriously under-housed even
when contented — not by further destruction of insanitary areas, as
some desire, nor by the erection of masses of new tenements for
the poorer classes, as another school of city reformers everywhere
desires ; but aiming rather at that gentle yet real uplift throughout all
classes which is afforded by better housing generally, and by normal
civic expansion and improvement.
Notice in this connection the survey by our foremost Edinburgh
antiquary and civic artist, Mr. Bruce Home, showing every historic
building still surviving : yet let us frankly recognise that interesting
though these old buildings may be, their survival must essentially
depend upon such possibilities of utilisation as they can show.
Here, then, the significance of our next exhibit — that outlining
the constructive work of the Town and Gown Association, Limited.
Here I shall only speak of its Gown side — that of collegiate
residence, and sum up its development and growth in twenty years
without eleemosynary aid, from one house and seven residents, in-
volving a capital of ^400, to 140 residents, plus additional accom-
modation for married residents and others, representing upwards of
,£50,000. This scheme has also extended to London, and there
initiated — with considerable outlay and not without sacrifice — the
University Hall of Residence in Chelsea, now conducted under the
aegis of the University of London, by a kindred but independent
;< University and City Association, Ltd.," which has in its turn
lately succeeded in re-erecting Crosby Hall. Here, then, we have a
new principle and method of town planning — and, indeed, of city
design. It is the combination, in each city, of its antiquarian piety, and
its conservative artistic purpose, with architectural ability and busi-
ness management : this towards a two-fold purpose — on one side
that of collegiate efficiency ; on the other, that of civic betterment.
With the accompanying Outlook Tower of Edinburgh, or the corre-
sponding survey of Chelsea and other boroughs beginning in London,
this combined collegiate and civic scheme is gradually becoming
intelligible as a centre not merely of civic survey, but also of civic
improvement. Education and post-graduate study and effort thus
tend to develop upon a somewhat different, yet not altogether less
social plane than that of the University Settlements, which may in
turn adapt themselves to the more unified civic and educational
policy of the University Halls.
These are, in fact, the gradual working-out of a scheme of
collegiate development, especially adapted to our larger University
570 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910.
The Civic Survey of Edinburgh.
572 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910.
cities, and not, as too much in older types, independently of the
existing city and by mere destruction and replacement of its buildings.
On the contrary, it seeks, on grounds alike economical and social, to
conserve and incorporate existing buildings. Hence our large perspec-
tives [figs. 18 and 19] of the upper third of the ridge of Old Edinburgh
now become intelligible as a definite and gradually unifying scheme.
This is not simply for the cleansing and conservation of the historic
remnants of Old Edinburgh, but for the development of this into a
collegiate street and city comparable in its way with the magnificent
High Street of Oxford and its noble surroundings. Not, of course,
comparable in the same forms of collegiate splendour ; but none the
less in the definite and practical way, of ultimate student numbers, and
in excellent and, in their way, not less educative conditions. Historic
houses have thus been renewed ; old courts cleansed, repaired, and
modestly re-beautified ; and City and University, too long dis-
sociated, begin to find themselves entering into renewing contacts,
in which that tradition of culture in democracy, which is the peculiar
heritage and glory of Scottish education, may be not only maintained,
but developed towards new and higher issues. Thus, then, the long
discord of antiquarian sentiment and utilitarian realism is beginning
to find a renewed harmony ; and our studious Survey has risen once
more towards practical purpose and unwearying activity.
In this renewal of Old Edinburgh other agencies have, of course,
also been long at work, both municipal and private ; witness the
admirable application of Miss Octavia Hill's system by the Social
Union. At present most hopeful, yet as some fear also most dangerous
to the future of Old Edinburgh is that possible improvement of Holy-
rood Palace now being considered in association with the memorial
of the late King and the welcome to the new. Here town-planning
schemes at this point are actually being called for, and towards these
our survey and its conservative suggestions, our constructive begin-
nings also, are respectfully submitted, especially to any to whom
the present principle — that of survey before action — carries a serious
At the outset we noted the fear that our surveys might delay
action. But has it not been shown in practice how our survey with
its interpretation illuminates the path for action, and this alike as
regards its dangerous and its hopeful possibilities? Our survey, in
short, leads inevitably towards a corresponding " Report on City
Development; " and this is actually in preparation, and on lines not
less, but more, comprehensive than those of my " City Develop-
ment "* with regard to the small yet deeply interesting and significant
City of Dunfermline.
Here, however, it is sufficient to give some simple indication alike
of the method and spirit of the Report which arises necessarily from
the Survey. First, as regards the method ; this we briefly express
by our juxtaposition of two plans of the city. The first is the ordinary
Directory map of the city, tinted here and there to show how it
has grown upon its physical contour and geographical situa-
tion. The second is a sample of our rough experimental sketches
towards the bettered city of the opening generation. For
the past it shows the utmost practicable acceptance of the natural
* Edinburgh: Geddes and Colleagues, Outlook Tower, 1904.
The Civic Survey of Edinburgh. 573
environment with the conservation of the historic heritage — the best
word of each and every generation. As regards the present, we
seek at once social betterment and economic efficiency ; while as
regards the opening future, we venture more and more boldly upon
that social and cultural evolution, at once civic and educational,
which surely expresses the best tradition and the highest hope of
Edinburgh Old and New. Our suggested Report on Edinburgh
Town Planning, then, is no mere matter of street-making, or house-
building, however respectably improved upon conditions present or
past. It is a City Design ; and this not only of material process, but
of idealistic progress, for except the ideal plan the city they labour
in vain that build it. Hence our verses from the scriptorium of
the Art College ; hence our suggested statue, one of the most
needed symbols of returning unity and activity at the main point of
Old Edinburgh, midway between its warring churches and assem-
blies, its colleges of all denominations — the statue of St. Columba the
Civiliser, in whom all religious traditions — Catholic, Episcopal,
Presbyterian of all denominations and all interpretations — legendary,
historic, and sociological — actually for once agree.
Beyond this even, as our survey began with the Castle upon
the Rock, so it ends appropriately with a Castle in the Air. Let our
successors materialise this in their turn.
Our Civic Survey thus has ranged through wide limits : from
the fullest civic idealism on the one hand, to the most direct and
ruthless realism on the other. For there is no real incompatibility
between the power of seeing the thing as it is — the Town as Place, as
Work, as Folk — and the power of seeing things as they may be — the
City of Etho-Polity, Culture and Art. Our city surveys, in fact,
descend throughout their veritable inferno, yet ascend towards corre-
sponding circles of higher life. What are these circles of ascent or
of decline? The needful stereoscopic device of thought — the analyses
of a strangely mingled and ever-changing ebb and flow, the rise and
fall of historic and individual evolution.
As final expressions, then, of our survey and of its practical
purpose, our exhibit ends with two symbols : First, Mr. Gibson's
well-carved model of the City Cross, in itself summing up the vicissi-
tudes of Old Edinburgh for centuries past, built in mediaeval times,
transformed at the Reformation, demolished in the utilitarian period,
partly re-erected — thanks to Sir Walter Scott — in the romantic age,
and finally re-erected and restored to civic uses. Hence this Cross
is peculiarly fitting as a symbol not only of Citizenship, but of
Civic Revivance ; and as complementing that initial Relief Model
of Edinburgh, with which we started as conditioning the material
origins of the town, by a corresponding expression of the deeper and
inner evolution of the city. The many-sided activities of a great city,
spiritual and social, educational and hygienic, architectural and
industrial — or most simply ideal and material — all these may be fitly
symbolised upon the many sides of this characteristic building as
aspects of a real unity ; and this unity again, by the shaft of the
Cross, as an ascent of life towards fitting expression — pointedly
individual because also civic and national. Yet as each phase of
development of our survey has come and gone, so in turn may this
presentment of it. All surveys, we have seen, need perpetual
574 Transactions of the Town Planning Conference, Oct. 1910.
renewal; and our final exhibit is thus a plain office-model of the
Outlook Tower — reduced to its simplest expression — that in which it
may be adapted by anyone to the problems and the tasks presented
by his own immediate environment, his own region and neighbour-
hood, quarter and city. Hence, beside this, we lay our indications
and beginnings of other surveys of cities, e.g. of Dunfermline, of
Perth and Dundee, of Chelsea, of Paris. These at least may serve
as further evidence of the practicability of city surveys ; and of these,
not only as the essential local and public Inquiry needed before town
planning and city improvement schemes can be safely or sufficiently
undertaken, but as helpful to municipal work of all kinds, and to
civic betterment in its endless details. In conclusion then, here is my
thesis and challenge : City surveys are urgent, practicable, and useful,
so useful that they must before long become for civic statesmanship
and local administration what charts now are to Admiralty and to
NOTE I. — Any who are desirous of entering upon a survey of
their city are invited to communicate writh the writer at Outlook
Tower, Edinburgh, or University Hall, Chelsea, or with the Secre-
tary of the Sociological Society, 24 Buckingham Street, Strand, who
will furnish a copy of a Memorandum on the need of " City Survey
preparatory to Town Planning," prepared by the Cities Committee
of the Sociological Society. This Memorandum includes a summary
of the Committee's work and recommendations; an indication of
the dang-ers of town planning before survey and of the method and
use of the preliminary survey ; and an outline scheme for City Survey
and its associated local Exhibition, corresponding to that of Edin-
NOTE II. — The cordial thanks of both editors of this survey are
due and tendered (a) for loans of original drawings to Mr. Bruce
Home, and of many valuable photographs to the Photographic
Society of Edinburgh, and to Mr. Frank C. Inglis ; (b) to their assist-
ants Mr. Robert Dykes, Miss Geddes, and Mr. Alastair Geddes.
NOTE III. — The success of the Town Planning Exhibition justifies
the suggestion of a further "Cities Exhibition," which should be
a graphic presentment of the Development of Cities and of their
historic and sociological Interpretation, as well as be more fully and
systematically representative of the best methods of Town Planning
and of the possibilities of City Development.
Elements towards such a Cities Exhibition are at present being
collected and provisionally arranged at Crosby Hall, Chelsea. These
include (a) a selection of typical plans, &c., of city improvements,
garden villages, &c., from the recent Exhibition, and others not there
exhibited, usually upon a smaller scale, more convenient for study and
comparison ; (b] the survey of Edinburgh, improved as to arrange-
ment, &c. ; (c) surveys (in various stages of progress) of other cities
and boroughs, e.g. Salisbury, Chelsea, &c. ; (d) other matters of
interest towards the study and interpretation of cities.
This Type-collection is being arranged with the view to exhibition
in other cities. Particulars can be obtained on application to its
Secretary (Crosby Hall, Chelsea, or Outlook Tower, Edinburgh).